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Published: December 19th 2013
Sunrise to the East
Mount Bromo, a Volcano steeped in history and legend.
A volcano dug by a love struck ogre with nothing but a coconut shell. A land of hope for a Hindu people as the original wave of Islam broke across the Island. Indonesia's love for this awe inspiring area is so great that most of them have never even heard of Krakatoa or its perilous past.
Set in the Sea of Sand, with the ever smoldering Mount Semuru in the background sits a large crater smoking ominously. Our first glimpse comes from above, as we stand on the terrifyingly high mountain Penanjakan. Dawn breaks and the sun casts light on the valley before us, showing a sea of fog and mist, from which the volcano rises eerily from. The scene is one, which despite all my previous travels, takes my breath away like never before. Which is a good thing, considering how we got there.
It started late on a Friday afternoon, a 600 mile trip which would theoretically take 24 hours to complete. Using toll roads, back roads, dirt tracks and the directional sense of one man working off about a one hours sleep. Looking back, it was
Light hits Bromo
The sea of fog sits before it
never going to be a good idea.
The trip started in good spirits, me and my friend Afri hopping aboard a small yellow (thankfully AC) bus. My height automatically affords me the seat with the most leg room (which was a mixed blessing). We all got settled as we bunkered down for what would be a long trip. Little did we know, it would only get longer. The hours from 3pm to Midnight passed without any real fall out. However, we did only travel about 60 miles in the first three hours, due to Jakarta's infamous traffic. It was at Midnight that our troubles began.
As we passed through a typically routine paybooth on the toll road, we were waved over and told to stop. Our tyre was flat as a pancake. We all hopped off the bus and watched as our driver tried in vain, to loosen the nuts holding the wheel in place. Being the heaviest member of the group, I stood forward to lend a hand, but not even my considerable size could budge them. After about an hour of trying various methods, we finally managed to change the tyre with the help of a
truck driver, with a metal handle to provide extra leverage. We were back on our way.
Time passed slowly on the bus, I couldn't speak Indonesian, so naturally only had one source of conversation - Afri - who chose to sleep most of the way. My overwhelming memory of the trip is boredom and intensive pain my glutus maximus. Eventually after a brief stop so our driver could get his one hour, we passed through a small town. Where our driver decided to break the speed limit and get pulled over by the cops. After another hours interrogation, some "cigarette money" passing hands and a imagine a not - so - stern telling off, we were free to go. It was at this point, using a GPS system on my phone, I began to question the validity of our travel time, as even with the stops, we were no where near where we should have been.
My fear rang true, as we were told by our tour guide, that we had to been in the city of Semerang by 6pm to pick up two people, who did the smart thing of flying. Considering the city was still six
hours short of our target and the fact that we were supposed to arrive at 3pm, it became obvious that the 24hour guideline was total (how to say it?) BULLSHIT.
Either way, we picked up our additional passengers and arrived at our overnight stay at Midnight. Considering that we then left this stay at 3am to catch the sunrise at Bromo, I can't say it would have been money well spent. It was during this stay, that my sidekick, Afri, became rather ill, with a bad back and violent cough. (Why does nothing ever go smoothly.
Despite all my complaining, I have to say Bromo was worth it. Looking down upon it from Penanjakan was stunning, but actually climbing the crater and looking back at Mount Penanjakan, with a Hindu temple in the foreground goes down as the most incredible landscape I have ever seen. Well worth the horrendous amount of shit covered sand I inhaled on the climb up. Unfortunately, like all Indonesian land marks, the place is touristic. Thankfully they can't spoil the majestic scenery, but the number of horses there to carry the lazy people don't half shit a lot.
After all the
The most amazing view I've ever seen
excitement of the trip there, myself and Afri decided to take the much more luxurious option of taking the train home from nearby Malang. It was supposed to be a short Ojek (motorbike taxi) but our guides also fucked us over here again. We arrived at the Ojek, who told us they could take us to the bus. They told us the bus was one hour. The bus driver then informed us (after one hour gone) that in fact, it was two hours. All in all, we missed the super comfy business class train we intended to get. We also missed the more comfortable super business class train we would have settled for and in the end, had to grudgingly accept the 15 hour economy class train. Which essentially meant park benches for seats. Thankfully it was empty and we could lay out on them and sleep all the way home.
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